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Rather Be Cooking
So many of my memories this Christmas season revolve around food! Imagine that.
We shared so many meals around our worn, pine table, from a birthday dinner complete with a delicious brisket to Christmas morning breakfast with two casseroles we devoured.
My holidays were consumed with cooking and eating, from traditional Christmas sweets to black-eyed peas and bacon from Nooherooka Natural in Snow Hill on New Year’s Day.
That’s not a complaint. I enjoy cooking for my family and don’t mind the hours I spend in the kitchen, although I do get stressed sometimes that things won’t turn out as planned or at my scheduled time.
But my food memories from this holiday season aren’t limited to the meals themselves.
Just before Christmas, my husband and I were making our traditional nutty fingers (also called lady fingers). For years, we have used Mama’s 1950s-era Mirro cookie press. This year, just before finishing the batch of goodies, we heard a strange noise as Reggie turned the crank of the press. And it stopped turning. Forever.
Later that night, I posted my sad news on Facebook. My friends understood my pain.
Jody Talton Teague saw my post and got in touch with me soon after. Jody had purchased a used press and had only used it once. She wanted me to have it. I was stunned. Happy stunned. Jody and I had never even met; we have mutual friends and are Facebook friends. Jody even came to the office to deliver the press that looked brand new. What a sweet, sweet Christmas surprise. I am so very thankful.
And although it’s smaller than Mama’s old one, Jody’s press works even better. I know that because after church on Christmas Eve, Reggie and I made cheese straws using that “new” press.
Every year around November, my son and I discuss if this will be the year I finally get a KitchenAid stand mixer during Black Friday sales.
My excuses for saying no always centered on two things: the price and lack of counter space in my kitchen.
This year, I said the same things; so no stand mixer for me.
A few weeks before Christmas, my daughter asked me if I’d like to use her hand-me-down stand mixer for my holiday baking. The mixer belonged to my cousin, who passed it to her daughter when she got a KitchenAid. Then the daughter passed it down to Anna, who has used it several times.
I loved the stand mixer! I enjoyed letting butter cream while I measured the next ingredients. I loved how the mixer didn’t spurt and hesitate with heavy batters. And no raw cookie dough escaped from the bowl onto the kitchen cabinets.
Robert and I started looking for good online deals. I found the mixer I wanted, at a price I could afford, and it arrived a few days after Christmas. That shiny red mixer is now out of the box. I’m still deciding exactly where it’s going to live on my countertop, but it’s worth the inconvenience of a little less counter space. I will make it work!
My first recipe will be our favorite oatmeal cinnamon bread, made with the dough hook, maybe during the snow this week!
Every year for Christmas, I hope for a new cookbook from my husband, who knows I love reading new recipes. Sometimes I give him hints! I will often point to a cooking magazines’ special publications when we are in line in the grocery store and tell him how nice it would look in my stocking.
This year, he gave me Pioneer Woman’s latest book, “Come and Get It” and Allrecipes “Greatest Hits” special publication.
I haven’t had time to read Ree Drummond’s book yet, but you can expect a recipe sample in coming weeks, I imagine. I have thumbed through the Allrecipes publication and can’t wait to try several recipes. I’ve already made one, a baked pancake that Reggie and I made for New Year’s Eve. It was delicious topped with strawberries and blueberries with warm strawberry preserves drizzled on top.
I didn’t have lemon juice, so I used vanilla instead in my pancake, also called Dutch babies. My sister gave me a bottle of pure vanilla extract made at Motte and Sons Bootlegging Company in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where she lives. The vanilla smells so good and added a wonderful taste to our pancake.
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice (I used 1 teaspoon vanilla instead)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar or to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Whisk together eggs and milk in a large bowl, then whisk in the flour, white sugar and salt until combined. Melt butter in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet, then pour in batter.
Bake until edges are brown, and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and powered sugar.*
* I topped mine with blueberries and strawberries drizzled with warm strawberry jam.